THE CASE FOR LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY by Donald E. Miller

THE CASE FOR LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A modest, sensible, dullish brief for the Christian Left, which incidentally shows why the Right is doing so much better. Miller is an Episcopalian teaching sociology in the School of Religion at the Univ. of Southern California, and while there's nothing new about his arguments, they constitute a textbook example of the goals and dilemmas of that problematic creature, the demythologized believer. What does such a person do once he realizes that transcendent reality can only be reached through the mediation of ""social fictions""--that while he (she, all of us) desperately needs to escape the rootless individualism of our ""therapeutic"" culture, to find a real Gemeinschaft with a ""common symbolic paradigm,"" there is no essential holiness or truth in any traditional symbols? Well, he crosses his fingers and goes to church anyway. One can recite the Nicene Creed or receive the Eucharist without committing oneself to literal faith in Jesus' virgin birth or resurrection. One can also pray, because if nothing else prayer ""shapes our perceptions of the world and our duties within it and hence may even provide the context for a self-fulfilling prophecy."" Trapped between the blind dogmatism of conservative Christianity and the alienated vacuum of secular humanism, Miller clings to his paradoxical (and vanishing) middle ground. But it's one thing to seek religious experience (and to defend it, as Miller does ably enough, against Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Freud, etc.), and another to fit it into a credible metaphysics: Miller, significantly, says next to nothing about death or eternity. His silence is understandable--and intellectually honest--but it's one of the reasons why only those already sympathetic to his case will find it convincing.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1981
Publisher: Harper & Row